Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Six degrees of the 80s

I'm a proud child of the 80s. I strongly believe that there wasn't a greater time to be a kid than the decade of horrible hair, break dancing and He-Man. When not thinking about family, jobs, bills, or what's for dinner I'm generally daydreaming about the 80s.

If I'm thinking about it, I might as well write it down. This is going to go a little like the six degrees of Kevin Bacon game. I'm going to start off with the first 80s thing that pops into my head and after I do a little write-up, I will find a way for it to awkwardly flow into another 80s nostalgia trip.

First up, off the top of my head, right this very second is: Flight of the Navigator. Wow, I didn't see that one coming.

Now, this is all from memory, but I believe Flight of the Navigator tells the tale of a young kid who gets taken away on space craft. I believe the robotic intelligence that runs the ship wants to study different species. Highlights from my memory involve the kid flying the spacecraft, a little snot-like rodent in a cage on the ship, and, of course, the robot talking exactly like Pee-Wee Herman.

I also recall being slightly disturbed that while the kid was off having a grand time in the ship his parents assumed he had been kidnapped and freaked out for years and years thinking he was dead. Yeah, not very Disney-like.

So, a robot that talks like Pee-Wee Herman will lead me to my next 80s topic. Stay tuned.

The Blind Side

Natasha hates football and she loved this movie. End of review.

A little more? OK. The basic story of  The Blind Side is based—some say very loosely—on a true story. Sandra Bullock's well-to-do southern family takes in a big-hearted and big boned African-American youth and gives him hope and a lesson or two in how to protect a quarterback from getting smothered by an all out blitz.

Sandra Bullock does a great job in her role and I can see why she garnered such attention during the award season. She really gets across how much she cares for her new family member and when she stands up for him against social prejudices I could feel the passion and really believe the performance.

The young actor playing Michael Oher didn't have a very demanding role. He did a good job of standing around and slumping his shoulders a lot but it was what the role called for and I can't fault him for that.

At the end of the day, this story is just another odd couple-type movie, but, this time, there's some good wholesome Christian values that drive the pairing. The awkward moments between the proper, blonde southern woman and the powerfully built black kid could have been painful to watch if acted differently or mismanaged by the director. They pull it off though and there are plenty of laughs and moments where you feel genuine pride in the decency of the family.

Monday, March 29, 2010

She and Him—Vol. 2

Zoey Deschanel can sing. This probably comes as no surprise to her family, friends, and most ardent fans. However, to the majority of people who mainly know her from movies such as Elf, Almost Famous, and 500 Days of Summer, I'm sure it will come as a shock that she is quite the accomplished singer.

Her voice is very clear and pure and just gives off good vibes. Many of the tracks on She and Him's second CD, Volume Two, could fit perfectly in another era of music like the 50s or early 60s. I can almost hear her singing Mr. Sandman.

The him in She and Him is M. Ward, an accomplished folk/indie performer in his own right. The production is pretty nice throughout and each track is different enough that while they all have an overall bouncy feel, each song stands on its own.

She and Him are two for two in my book. They've produced two great albums that I have no problem listening through from beginning to end. Now, if only we could get Deschanel away from this pesky acting thing, we might not have to wait a few years until the next album.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Disney on Ice review

My wife and I took our daughters to see Disney on Ice last night. The show was broken up into four parts with Mickey and his gang serving as MCs.

The first segment consisted of the cars from the movie Cars driving around the ice as they helped Mickey's car get up and running after a breakdown. While there wasn't much to the actual story here the cars themselves were very impressive. They really looked like the vehicles from the movie and moved around with quite a bit of maneuverability.

After the excitement of seeing, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald the Cars gang kind of played second fiddle for my kids but they definitely got into the music.

On a side note, if I had to guess, I'd say a majority of the prop and design budget for the entire show went into the fabrication of the cars. The reason I say this is because the sets for the next two segments were pretty unimpressive.

The next mini-show was an on ice reenactment of Disney's The Little Mermaid. The aforementioned set consisted of a large rock-type formation at the back of the stage that the performers primarily used as an area to reenact the on-land parts of the story.

This was a pretty decent retelling of Ariel's story and they had all the major characters and songs. They definitely utilized all their performers when singing songs such as Under the Sea. However, for my children's taste, and I'd say for my wife and mine as well, there was a little too much isolated skating in the center of the ring. While impressive at a low-level Olympic level, the skating seemed to drag and I eyed many restless children throughout our section.

Next up was an abbreviated retelling of The Lion King. Like mermaid, this too suffered from some extended skating or doubles skating. Impressive to watch for sure, but still, the kids could really care less to see humans with lion make-up and tails skate around tossing each other up and down.

That being said, the most impressive portion of the entire night's show came when they reenacted Mufasa falling to the wildebeests. The serious music starts up, Simba comes out alone and then about twelve performers burst out of the curtain, each adorned with three wildebeest-like flowing fabrics, one attached to their heads and the other two attached to their arms.

The effect was surprisingly good. When the twelve performers swooshed around Mufasa and Simba you really felt their peril. The director of this segment really deserves lots of praise.

After a much needed intermission, it was time to tell the story of Tinker Bell as told in the direct-to-DVD releases Disney has been putting out. Kaylee, my two-year-old, loves these DVDs and she was excited to see Tinker Bell. They were pretty faithful to the first DVD that introduces the world of Pixie Hollow and Tinker Bell and her gang of elemental fairies.

The highlight of the Tinker Bell segment was the grand finale where all the performers come out and celebrate the saving of the season. Mickey and his gang join in on the festivities and there's lots of ribbons popping and flowers blooming and it's was a great way to end the show.

All in all I'd say Disney put on a pretty good show. Be prepared to pay large amounts of money if you want any type of Disnified snack or prop. Disney is too good at this type of thing. They make all of the drink and cotton candy containers very cute and made of plastic so you hand over your twelve dollars like a good little Disney zombie.

My whole family really had a good time and I anticipate that the program book that we picked up (ten dollars thank you Mr. Zombie) will be a thoroughly destroyed, I mean well-read, souvenir in our house.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Disney on Ice tonight

Review forthcoming. Will Tinker bell fall on her ass? How exactly do the cars from Cars skate? Will we have to leave ten minutes into the show because our daughters' snot bubbles are dripping on the families below?

These exciting tidbits and more to come.

Quick note on Grammar and Spelling

I suck at both of them right now. I used to be quite the grammar and spelling scholar in my school days. However, a combination of email, forgetfulness, and laziness has brought my knowledge of the written word to its knees.

You will undoubtedly see cringe worthy spelling mistakes and grammar errors that would make that shooting a panda lady slap her forehead in disgust.

I can only promise that I'm trying to get better and I hope you'll see a marked improvement as the posts start to add up over the weeks.

A Timely Review

I know, it's not exactly the newest or most seasonally appropriate film to be launching a review section.

The good news is that Four Christmases, aka 4XC, as it will now be known, has little if anything to do with Christmas. It is probably the best Christmas movie to watch four months after the holidays as you get absolutely no feelings of longing or nostalgia from this very straight forward story about an unmarried couple.

Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon are perfectly happy as an unmarried, childless couple who keep the flames of romance alive by roll playing in night clubs and taking exotic vacations to tropical locales.

They usually skip out on the family Christmas gatherings as they both have rather odd parents who they'd rather not get stuck with for extended periods.

Needless to say, in true romantic comedy formula, they get stuck having to go to the gatherings anyway. Along the way they learn a lot of not so great thing, not only about their pasts before they knew each other, but also about where they both see their lives heading together.

There are some generally good chuckles to be found throughout the movie and I really enjoyed that three of the four actors from the movie Swingers make an appearance.

Vince Vaughn is especially good at fake vomiting and he makes a great Joseph when he's forced into a church nativity play.

I've seen my fair share of romantic comedies over the course of six plus years of marriage and this one is more than tolerable and I'd even say enjoyable.

Is it just me or have romantic comedies become more and more serious over the years? If it's not hard to watch fights on screen, it's kids dying of cancer or marriages deteriorating over infidelity. Four Christmases was a nice reminder that these movies don't have to be such downers and can actually be a good time.

So it begins...

Here it goes. This is my first post on my first ever blog. It is rather exciting in a sad sort of way.

So, what to write about?

I think the best place to start is to say the whole purpose of my blog is to get me writing again. I'm an aspiring fiction writer and I've started and stopped numerous book ideas since I graduated from the UCF creative writing program in 1999. It's now over ten years and I've had nothing published. In fact, I've not really even finished much of anything.

Ten years is enough of a grace period. It is time to see if I really have what it takes. I have confidence in my writing and storytelling abilities which is really saying something as I'm generally a rather poor fan of my own abilities in most aspects of my life.

Wow. This has been a really whiny first post. I had to get it out of my system though.

Fun times ahead.